I know that we are, strictly speaking, supposed to write only about Bootleggers related subjects in the Buzz but as this is a special World Cup issue I felt the need to write up my team of the tournament. Maybe it will spring up some debate in the comments section – I’m sure that everyone will have different views on the subject. I don’t think I’ve been controversial with my picks for the team, but maybe you’re American and want to shoot me for not including Tim Howard. Here are my choices and why:
Keylor Navas of Costa Rica – he had such a great tournament. He kept clean sheets against Italy and England, and then went on to be the hero in the penalty shootout against Greece. He kept out the Dutch for 120 minutes but couldn’t repeat the penalty heroics from the previous round.
Tim Howard had a great game against Belgium but he had made errors in the group games – specifically against Portugal. That’s why he isn’t in my team.
Mats Hummels of Germany – he missed a few games at the start of the tournament but when he came into the team for Per Mertesacker he instantly improved the German backline. His goal in a tight game against the French was also important for Germany in terms of progression.
Thiago Silva of Brazil – everyone talks about David Luiz and his energy and passion but Thiago Silva was the real unsung hero in the Brazilian defence. The Germans were rampant in the semi-final against Brazil, but had Thiago Silva not been missing then I think it could’ve been a different game. He was clearly the leader in the squad and without him on the pitch it completely fell apart.
Gary Medel of Chile – this is my wild card for the team to be honest. There have been some other good defenders in the tournament, but given the size of Chile and how well they performed in the tournament, I think that Gary Medel deserves a lot of credit. He is technically a midfielder who can also play in defence, but his role for Chile was very much at center back.
Javier Mascherano of Argentina – everyone talks about Messi for Argentina and the other players going forward, Aguero, Higuain and Di Maria, but Mascherano has been a huge player for them as the holding midfielder. When you consider that he plays his club football as a center back for Barcelona, to be playing midfield again at a world cup, I think it is a big challenge. However, he has been immense in breaking up the opposition play and keeping it simple going forward, letting the more talented attackers do their thing.
Philipp Lahm of Germany – Lahm is the quiet man of the German team in my opinion. He doesn’t necessarily stand out, but he is brilliant at what he does. He started the tournament in midfield and swapped to his old right back position after injuries to the German defence. I’m sure that on Sunday night he will be lifting the world cup as Germany captain.
Toni Kroos of Germany – his range of passing and his ability to control a game have been him really stand out as a top midfielder in world football. The likes of Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo are highly regarded for similar abilities but Toni Kroos is standing way above them and anyone else at the moment. He totally ran the game against Brazil and picked up two goals in the process.
James Rodriguez of Colombia – he is my player of the tournament for sure. Colombia came into the tournament having lost a few players to injury – including key man Radamel Falcao – and a lot of people were writing them off. The whole Colombia team deserve huge credit for their performances but James Rodrigues was undoubtedly their driving force in winning games. He also currently stands to be the top goal scorer unless Thomas Muller can pick up a few goals in the final.
Neymar of Brazil – I don’t think that he had a fantastic tournament by any stretch of the imagination. At the confederations cup 12 months ago he was on fire. However, he was vital to Brazil when it came to attack and I think the loss of him from the team completely showed how average Brazil were without him – Hulk and Fred were awful. In the game against Chile he took the pressure that came with the winning penalty and took it so calmly for someone of his age.
Arjen Robben of The Netherlands – without meaning any disrespect to Holland and the rest of their squad, I think Robben carried them in some of the latter games of the tournament. He seemed to be their only bright spark at times and he started the tournament with a bang when he absolutely destroyed the Spanish defence with his pace.
Thomas Muller of Germany – when you consider that he isn’t the complete striker, yet he now has ten goals in two world cup finals, he is phenomenal when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net. But not only does he score goals he also creates them. When Klose has come on as a substitute he has slipped out wide and still been just as important to the team. If it wasn’t for James Rodriguez then Thomas Muller would be my player of the tournament.
I went for a 3-4-3 formation because so many teams seemed to be using it at the tournament. A quick note on my goal of the tournament, and there was some fantastic goals, it has to be James Rodriguez with his first half volley against Uruguay. Tim Cahill scored a similar goal in the group games, but the way James Rodriguez scored his was just unbelievable.
So there you have it, my team of the tournament. Any thoughts? Who would you have in your team and why?